“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” Luke 18:1-8, NIV
This is the final part of a four-part series on the essential parts of our private times of prayer and worship here on Sunday mornings. Today we look at “supplication”, that is, the time private or corporate worship that we ask God to help us. It’s the time we beg Him to intervene and rescue us or those we are praying for.”
Billy Graham once said that, ”In the morning, prayer is the key that opens to us the treasures of God's mercies and blessings; in the evening, it is the key that shuts us up under his protection and safeguard.” Why don’t we pray more and complain less! Nothing better illustrates our progress as men and women into representatives of disciples of Jesus Christ than our focus and dedication to prayer. "The prayer offered to God in the morning during your quiet time is the key that unlocks the door of the day. Any athlete knows that it is the start that ensures a good finish." - Adrian Rogers. Do you start your day asking God to bless you and your calendar during the day?
So after we praise and adore Him, and after we confess our sins and failures, and after we thank Him—-then is the time to make our requests known to Him! Are you doing that each day? Are we doing that every Sunday? Are we bringing our hopes, dreams, fears and longings to Him every day? Or we going about our day with a sad face like we have the load of the world upon our shoulders because “nobody knows the burdens, chores, responsibilities and work I have in front of me today.” Well, it’s your own fault! Stop being the martyr and get off the cross! Someone’s already paid the price and provided you the keys to an abundant life. If you don’t want to open that door that’s your stupid choice—not His, and certainly not your children’s or your spouse/s choice for you. Perhaps you like being the worn out saint that no one can ever understand, but God knows the truth——you don’t want His help or Lordship. You prefer to be your own Lord and then demand sympathy for a self-pitying life.
Pray about your day, first thing in the morning, before the things that steal your joy to overtake you! Pray about everything——all things! ”Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden." - Corrie Ten Boom. We shouldn’t whine about things we should having praying about in the first place. Think about how much time Christians waste talking about people rather than praying for people. Can you imagine how different our nation might be if every minute we laughed at Biden or Pelosi or Trump, we were praying for them? The world would be a very different a far better place if we prayed more and complained less.
"God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil." - Mother Teresa
But when I go to God and offer my prayers of supplication, I must remember that praying is not me telling God what I want Him to do and how He should do it. “Prayer is putting myself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of my heart." - Mother Teresa. And as I do this, I will find that He does, in fact, hold me gently in His hands and that my heart is at peace during the day.
Abraham Lincoln said that, ”I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day." That’s the place of serenity and a quiet spirit—giving it to Him and trusting that He, the lover of your soul, knows the best response, action and response to whatever lies around the corner.
The discipline of private prayer requires that I get alone and get serious with God. And when I am alone, I have to listen, as well as petition! He speaks only when we put our lips together and listen. Mother Theresa said that, ”God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”
In my personal times of prayer I have two sets of supplications—those that are my intercessory prayers for others and those that are my personal petitions and pleas to God.
I intercede for:
Those I love. God’s placed them in my life for a purpose—-and I pray for them. They have hurts, dreams, fears. I pray for God’s protection and blessing upon them every day—and I feel better about them because of that. Sometimes I pray that God not only protects them, but that he does not allow them to get away with things they should not be doing. I am praying for them as a true parent or true friend——not like I am talking to a genie in a bottle gives them things they should not have!
Those that don’t love me. This is what separates the Christian in love with Jesus from the nominal Christian. Jesus told me to pray for those that hate me—-my enemies—-just like He did. And as I pray for the blessing and well-being of those that have used me and hurt me, not only are unexpected blessings released for me, more importantly I begin to acquire the very mind and character of Jesus—-that’s the goal. You cannot become like Jesus if you are not able to learn to sincerely pray a blessing on those that are truly your enemies.
Those that are in authority over me. Again, why do I pray for my enemies and politicians? Because He told me to! I think He’s well aware of how corrupt some folks in Danbury, Raleigh, Washington, Paris, Moscow and Beijing are. And yet I am told to pray for them. God could remove anyone of them in an instant——just the snap of His fingers. So I am not called to fear them or admire them, but I am to honor them with my sincere prayers. To get nations back on their feet, we must first get down on our knees and pray for our leader.
And I end my prayer time by praying for my own needs, dreams and desires. Jesus said, “You have not because you ask not..” I do ask for his blessing…..protection…favor…the abundant life that He’s promised. I remind Him that either He blesses me or I perish. I look to Him for my sustenance—-not my own merits and wits, and it’s a good feeling to know that He is my Provider, Defender, Protector and Advocate. I can end my prayer time knowing that He has heard me and that He will take care of me.
But the secret to answered prayers, no matter what the topic, is persistence and surrender.
In prayer, as you are lifting up things that you think might be standing in your way to peace and a great day, SURRENDER IT TO GOD! It’s so much easier than trying to explain to Him what He needs to do to fix the problem!
So in your time of supplication, pray about things that are, or might, be stealing your joy today—don’t let those anxieties ruin your day—-and probably the days of those that live or work beside you as well. Take the preemptive measure of praying FIRST——not after the things you dread have fallen upon you! Seize the day and pray!
"Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" - Corrie ten Boom once asked. God’s is ready to steer us and keep us on track and away from those things that cheat us from abundant living.
We need to not forget to give things to God immediately when we feel overwhelmed or tempted to worry. Martin Luther once said that, "To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing."
Paul said to pray at all times and in all circumstances. “We are to pray in times of adversity, lest we become faithless and unbelieving. We are to pray in times of prosperity, lest we become boastful and proud. We are to pray in times of danger, lest we become fearful and doubting. We are to pray in times of security, lest we become self-sufficient." - Billy Graham. I have learned to not trust my own manners of self-control or my sense of direction. Nothing on earth can separate me from God’s love, but all things on earth, including His blessings, great health and an easy life can pull me away from Him. I do not want this, so submit all things to Him and ask Him to have His way. "Prayer makes a godly man, and puts within him the mind of Christ, the mind of humility, of self-surrender, of service, of pity, and of prayer. If we really pray, we will become more like God, or else we will quit praying." - E.M. Bounds
And as we do all of this…as we pray and pour out our hearts to Him each morning, believe that He hears you and that He will answer you. Don’t decide how and when—-He never works like that—-but expect it. Spurgeon once said, “If you believe in prayer at all, expect God to hear you. If you do not expect it, you will not have it. God will not hear you unless you believe He will hear you; but if you believe He will, He will be as good as your faith." So we ask for what we need, what we pine for and for those good things He is quite able to give. "Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural." - Oswald Chambers. Naturally our Father wants to take care of us! We need to not ask quaking and shaking, but boldly—-knowing that He hears us and that He loves us dearly.
Now, a sober question connected to all of this: Are your prayers hitting the ceiling? Do you feel like He’s not paying attention to you? Try this:
1. Pray for others—-sincerely and specifically. It’s amazing how puny and insignificant our supplications are to God when we get others and their needs on our hearts. God is quite capable of handling all the needs of all His children, but He takes delight when we focus upon the plight of others first. Pray for those you love as if your prayers have more power and efficacy than anyone else interceding for them. That might sound silly or even egotistical, but it works and it helps me remember the importance of praying for others. Indeed, I might be the only one praying for that soul.
2. Don’t tell God how He has to answer your prayers. Every time I tell God that things must happen one of two ways, He always answers my prayers a third way——don’t limit God’s imagination and resources! He will answer your prayers…